WELCOME to your news roundup of the week that was and the week yet to come for your Phoenix Suns.
The Suns, who went 4-0 this week, should have at least run out a 2-2 week, given they were facing truly struggling teams in the Blazers and the Grizzlies. But stranger things have happened right? The San Antonio Spurs have 3 wins all season, and 2 of them are over the Suns. They have not won a single game since. So yeah, strange things can happen.
The other two games of last week — hosting the Warriors, on road at Knicks — would be much harder. And yet, the Suns just went in and took care of business against those good teams’ starters.
Snapshot: WEEK AT A GLANCE
Yes, yes, in the Warriors game, Chris Paul made a thing happen to distract from the game itself, but the Suns were already up 12 points with mere seconds left in the first half before mayhem commenced. The Warriors ended up making the game close with their deep bench guys getting hot after the Suns had already turned off their own pilot light. Still, KD and Book came back in the last minute and a half to stretch a three-point lead to the closing 8-point win on free throws.
On Sunday against the Knicks, the Suns had the lead the whole game by outhustling the hustling the hustling-est team in the league, and outrebounding the rebounding-est team in the league. Jordan Goodwin plays a lot better without the jaw-supporting mask, scoring 14 points, with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and a block and steal. Eric Gordon had 25. Jusuf Nukic had a 8/10/4/4 line against the uber-long Mitchell Robinson. So many good contributions up and down the line. Good on yeah Suns!
But really, this is all we need from Sunday’s game right?
Kevin Durant’s reaction to Devin Booker’s game-winner— Booker Muse (@DevinBookerMuse) November 27, 2023
(via BleacherReport/TikTok) pic.twitter.com/8UsWtorDg5
Sorry if that was all pirated footage from real sources, but it really catches the reactions of not only KD but also the other guys, just realizing what they saw.
Here’s from our own local X/tweet man, Cody Hunt.
Devin Booker in 4 games (2 without Kevin Durant) this week:— Cody Hunt (@co_dhunt) November 27, 2023
-Game Winner in MSG
He's got Western Conference Player of the Week wrapped up.
Not sure about ‘locked up’ but that’s certainly a strong argument. I’m sure there’s some dude who averaged more points and assists, and maybe made a cool three about three minutes earlier in the fourth of his own game at some point that didn’t make a difference in the final score but was made fun with a big grin and immediate Sportscenter click-rating coverage. But I digress. Book’s problem is that Book didn’t even smile, just walked away from that shot, knowing there were 1.7 seconds left and they needed a stop to actually win the game.
Devin Booker with the game winning three at MSG in front of the Knicks bench pic.twitter.com/5R2wWleaSq— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 27, 2023
Scroll on down for a preview of this week’s games to come....
Notable Quotes from the Week that Was
Drew Eubanks on Book’s game winning shot: “Unreal. Over two guys. Get to his spot. I knew. I knew that shit was going in.”
Jordan Goodwin on the game winning shot: “I thought he was Kobe for a second.”
Devin Booker on his MSG game-winner, via Tim McMahon: “I feel like if I raise up and I have it on my right side that nobody can really get to it. I know it sounds crazy, but it feels like an open shot and when you let it go, it’s good.”
Frank Vogel, on Booker as the full-time point guard, to Gerald Bourguet/PHNX: “Better than expected,” Vogel said. “We expected it to be pretty good, but to have some growing pains and some bumps. But he has really embraced the overall leadership role on this year’s team, and in particular, in running the offense and embracing that transition to playing point guard.”
Booker, on doing everything for everyone all at once (he’s averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds, FG%, 3P%, free throws): “I’m in the position where I’m facilitating and make sure our shooters are getting touches, making sure KD gets clean looks and not seeing doubles the whole game. So there’s responsibility there that I’m still figuring out.”
Suns Around the Web
- Duane Rankin/AZCentral.com ($): Kevin Durant talks foot progress, and last season’s trade from Nets to Suns; some of this can also be found here on the X
- Gerald Bourguet/PHNX Sports: 3 Ways Booker has made yet another leap this summer
- Kellan Olson/ArizonaSports: Suns offer unique perspective on Chis Paul/Scott Foster feud
- ArizonaSports: Booker challenges former teammate’s consistency of motor
- Steve Kerr yelling at clouds
Steve Kerr on the Suns arena:— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 23, 2023
“It's like a South Beach club out there. What are we doing? I couldn't hear anything out there. It's just the whole game. It's thumping techno club music. Can we just have a basketball game anymore? What the hell?”
Good Bright Side reads you probably missed
There’s so much great content on here! Each week I’ll highlight some Bright Side articles that didn’t get as many eyeballs as they should have. It’s worth your time to give these unique takes a look before they’re lost in the ether forever.
- Stephen: Five statistics propelling success for the Phoenix Suns this season; I know you’re like ‘uhhhh that looks like a nerd post, what’s next’ but do yourself a favor and read it anyway
- Dave: How bad is the Durant foot issue?; Doesn’t seem like much yet, but the cadence of day-to-day testing feels a lot like the Booker and Beal handling in the past year; but at least it’s not an ‘oh no’ moment yet
- Damon: Booker on his own tier of two-way superstar; Nailed it, Damon. It seems that not everyone understands yet just how impactful of a defender Booker is.
- John: The rise of Nassir Little; with Yuta Watanabe, Little has gotten rotation minutes and made the most of them
BRIGHT SIDE NIGHT
- Dave: Bright Side Night is coming — help us out! Yeah you missed my own personal triple match on Thanksgiving, but there’s ALWAYS a Suns double-match of your donation to send underprivileged kids to Jan 16th Suns-Kings game. Do it! As little as $15 out of your pocket for a lifetime memory for them. More than $15 to give? Great — we’ll give even more back to YOU so you don’t feel so left out of the feeling of giving!
- Direct donation link: https://www.nba.com/suns/brightside
Here’s the latest. I added the ‘tradable on’ column to show you what’s in the bag.
Here’s the trade/signing rules between now and end of trade deadline in Feb 2024 (including the trade exceptions you may not know)
- CAN aggregate salaries this year, in and out
- CANNOT take on more than 10% more salary coming back in a trade of players
- CAN sign a guy who was bought out, but only if he made less than #12.4 million
- CAN use a trade exception to acquire a player from another team into a roster spot, but canNOT be included with outgoing players. Has to be used by itself to acquire someone else’s player into the salary spot
- Dario Saric trade exception = $4.975 million, usable through 2/9/2024
- Cameron Payne trade exception = $6.5 million, usable through 9/7/2024
- There’s also small Isaiah Todd and Toumani Camara ones, but they are under $2 mil each
Contracts in black ink are guaranteed, meaning the Suns have to pay those salaries whether or not the player is on the team, like Keon Johnson. He’s fully charged to the Suns, since he only signed a two-way with Brooklyn.
*Note: Spotrac.com has the Suns still $4.869 million over the second apron. I got most of the way there realizing Goodwin’s non-guaranteed portion counts against this number, but still looking for the other 800k.
Team owner Ishbia has said over and over again he doesn’t care about the cost, but roster management gets more and more difficult if they stay over. Keep reading...
What does the ‘second tax apron’ mean to the Suns, starting next offseason?
If they are still over when the 2023-24 regular season ends:
- cannot pay more than the league minimum for free agents from another team
- cannot trade the “seven years out” first-round pick (2031)
- cannot acquire any players in sign-and-trade
- cannot send out cash in any trades
- One-for-one player trades trades only (no salary aggregation of multiple players)
- every trade must return the same or less player salary back to the Suns
If they remain over the second apron twice in the following four years (i.e. three of five), starting NEXT season:
- those future frozen draft picks they keep are moved to the END of the first round (they can later be unfrozen if the team gets below the second apron 3 out of 4 years)
In short, trades get TOUGH for the teams over the second apron, especially after this season ends. That’s they these biggest spenders are accumulating the biggest salaries they can right now so they can at least start from the top on the trade.
Important Future Dates
- Dec 4-5: NBA In-Season Tournament Knockout rounds; Suns likely in as wildcard, meaning will have to win two to advance to Final Four in Vegas*
- Dec. 7: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals Final Four*
- Dec. 9: NBA In-Season Tournament Finals for inaugural NBA Cup**
- Dec 15: Almost all free agents signed over summer can start being included in trades
- Feb 8: Trade Deadline
- Feb. 16-18: NBA All-Star Weekend 2024
- April 14: 2023-24 regular season ends
*Knockout and Semis count as part of the 82 regular season games. Any that the Suns don’t play in will be rescheduled that week against another of the eliminated teams to keep schedule clean coming out of this, except for...
**The Dec 9 NBA Cup Final is #83 for 2 teams. Won’t count on schedule, kind of like if they did the All-Star game better. Every player on winning team gets half-mil.
The Week Ahead
- Away @ Toronto Raptors (8-9); early tip 5pm here
- Home vs. Denver Nuggets (10-6); Friday at 8PM on ESPN (late game)
- Home vs. Memphis Grizzlies (3-13)
Suns/Raps: Under Rasho Rajakovic, who you remember with the Suns a few years ago as a great player development coach, the Raptors are making the most of their roster.
22-year old Scottie Barnes has definitely taken that leap into stardom in his third season, showing the league why maybe he really shouldn’t have been included in a Kevin Durant trade last season. He’s blowing up the boxes with scoring (19.3, second on team), rebounding (9.1, leads team), assists (5.8, second on team), steals (1.7, leads team), and he’s shooting it well with 37/38/75 splits.
Barnes is big and physical, like a lot of the Raptors wings including OG Anunoby, Paskal Siakam, and Prescious Achiuwa who all clock in the 6’7”/230 range. These are guys the Suns DON’T match up with well, due to height or heft. The Suns guys are either much skinnier or just shorter. Will be a real matchup challenge.
The Raptors are beatable, of COURSE, but it’s going to take some good shooting and paint work to do it. They don’t block many shots, and they’re below average in defending jumpers. And they shoot okay, but not all that well.
Suns/Nuggets: My guess is that Jamal Murray is BACK for this game against the Suns. He’s already been cleared for day-to-day watch this week for a return to the lineup after missing this month with a hammy issue. While he’s been out, the Nuggets have lost more games than they’ve won, including 4 of their last 5. Their only win in the last week? Over Monty Williams bottom feeding Detroit Pistons. I could make a comment about being able to handle injuries better, but I’ll leave that to you guys. The Nuggets are also dealing with day-to-day injuries to a number of rotation regulars. We’ll see who all plays Friday on both sides.
Suns/Grizzlies: And here’s the comeuppance, in my opinion, for a young phenom who has not taken the Scottie Barnes power shot. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been flying up the player rankings lists over the years without ever having to be a real reliable goto option. He’s the absolute ultimate role player for sure, but when it comes to the biggest games he’s a guy. Sorry, JJJ, for starting this whole section on you, but you’re now the best player on this walking infirmary of a team and they’re 3-13 as of Monday. He’s putting up numbers because someone has to (19/6/2) on 41/29/80 splits, but just not good enough.
The COOL story here is the return of BISMACK BIYOMBO! The Grizzlies signed the Bis a week ago to spur their 3rd win of the season, and he’s delivering Bizzy numbers: 7.5 points on 69% shooting and 7.4 rebounds in 25 minutes per game as the starter to take rebounding pressure off JJJ. Another former Suns connection: they just signed Shaquille Harrison off the street using a hardship clause due to all their injuries.
This week’s poll
How do the Suns do this week?
Suns got Raptors on road, then home back-to-back v. Denver and Grizzlies on Friday and Saturday
This poll is closed
3-0 for 10-game win streak!